French President Macron reaffirms support for Ukraine’s sovereignty amid fears of Russian invasion
France will continue to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine amid the looming threat of a further Russian invasion, French President Emmanuel Macron said at a joint press briefing with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelensky, in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Feb. 8.
Speaking at a press briefing after talks with Macron, the Ukrainian president stressed that issue of Ukrainian security was the key topic of today’s “successful” negotiations.
Zelensky added that he hoped that the meeting of political advisers to the Normandy Four leaders (France, Germany, Ukraine, and Russia), which is to be held in Berlin on Feb. 10, will pave the way for a meeting of the Normandy Four leaders.
He also announced that France has decided to allocate EUR 1.2 billion in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine.
“We really appreciate such a show of solidarity with other states, a powerful step on the part of Emmanuel, on the part of France – the allocation of EUR 1.2 billion of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine.”
“This will really help us stabilize our economy,” Zelensky said, adding that “this is a powerful step for the economic sustainability of Ukraine.”
Macron in turn emphasized the importance of implementing the Minsk agreements, adding that Zelensky had assured him that Ukraine was ready to fulfill them.
He also announced the need to return to the system of guarantees that had previously ensured security and defense throughout Europe. A broad dialogue on such an order that would suit everyone on the continent will be taking place in the coming weeks, Macron said.
Commenting on Russia’s military buildup near Ukrainian borders, the French president said that “Russia is creating military pressure on the borders,” adding that by its actions, the Kremlin is creating “pressure on the international community.”
Responding to a journalist’s question, Macron also denied using the term ’Finlandization’ as a possible solution for Ukraine, during his earlier meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Macron said that he had never used the term in relation to Ukraine, and France respects the aspirations of the Ukrainian people to restore their territorial integrity.
The New York Times originally reported that Macron had told journalists before his meeting with Putin that the “Finlandization” of Ukraine was “one of the models on the table.”
In its story, The New York Times explained that the term alludes to how Finland, facing the Soviet Union during the Cold War, was able to maintain independence from its powerful neighbor and survive as a democracy on the condition of strict neutrality.
A “Finlandization” of Ukraine would imply that it would never join NATO and that Russia would exercise considerable influence over it politically.
Before flying to Ukraine, Macron visited Russia’s capital city of Moscow on Feb. 7 to meet with Putin.
The meeting between the French and Russian leaders lasted for over five hours.
Later at a joint press conference, Putin said that he considers it “possible” to consider “a number of (Macron’s) proposals and ideas” for de-escalating the situation around Ukraine, which could “lay the foundation for our further steps.”
Earlier, on Feb. 6, the U.S.-based Politico political media outlet wrote that Macron was taking an “almighty gamble” by styling himself as the world leader who could strike a peace deal with Putin.
“If he pulls it off, he’ll be the hero who prevented an assault on Ukraine and put Europe back on the map as a diplomatic big-hitter, all just in time for the French presidential election in April,” Politico wrote.
On the eve of his visit to Moscow, Macron said he hoped his dialogue with the Russian president would be enough to prevent military conflict, and that he believed Putin would be open to discussing wider issues.
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